Naseer Shamma
نصير شمه


Naseer Shamma was born in 1963 in Kut, a city on the Tigris river in eastern Iraq. He began playing the oud at the age of twelve and went on to study at the Baghdad Academy of Music, where he received guidance from oud masters such as Ali Al-Imam, Salem Abdul Karim and Rawhi Khammash. After several years at the Academy, he also began to teach oud, while at the same time furthering his own study of the instrument. It was during this time that Shamma began to devlelop his own distinctive style and he also gave his first public performances both at home and abroad, which included his own compositions. After receiving his diploma in 1987 he spent some time in Jordan, and in 1993 he took a teaching position in the Institut Supérieur de Musique de Tunis in Tunisia. After five years in that post he was appointed director of the newly-created 'House of Oud' (Beit el Oud) in Cairo, Egypt, which has since opened branches in several other Arab countries. Shamma's musical output has been extensive, matched only by the number of awards and accolades that he has received. He is one of the most well-known and outspoken oud players of the present time, and continues to push the boundaries of the oud. Among his most recent projects is the 'Üç Ud'un Hikâyesi' (History of Three Ouds) collaboration with Mehmet Bitmez and Kyriakos Kalaitzidis. Naseer Shamma originally played an oud built by Fawzi Monshed, but now generally plays an instrument made by Yaroub Mohammed Fadel.

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Selected Recordings

(Musicaimmagine MR 10019)

The title of Naseer Shamma's first CD is an Arabic word that describes the brilliance of the morning sun. The tracks are mostly original compositions, each based on a particular Iraqi maqam, and Shamma plays a traditional six-string oud on this recording.

1. Min al-Qalb (From the Heart) Kurdi 9:41
2. Fawq al-Nakhl (Above the Palm Tree) Hijāz 12:26
3. Ishrāq (Illumination) Kurdi 5:36
4. Qissat Kurdiya (Kurdish Story) Desht 8:35
5. Lawha (Suffering) Khanabāt 14:18
6. Hulm al-Hanīn (Dream of Nostalgia) 'Ajjam 13:00
7. 'Adhūba (Sweetness) Mkhālef 8:24

Le Luth de Bagdad/The Baghdad Lute
(Institut du Monde Arabe 321009)

Shamma develops the compositional style of his previous CD further on this recording, the climax of which is a piece named after the al-Amiriyya shelter in Baghdad where a group of children died in the Gulf War. The oud is used very effectively to recreate the sounds of the air-raid and its aftermath.

1. Min adh-Dhâkira (Memories) Maqâm 'Ajam 8:56
2. Qissat Hubb Sharqiyya (An Oriental Love Story) Maqâm Awj 7:50
3. Nasamât 'Adhba (Soft Breezes) Maqâm Dacht 5:22
4. Sukûn al-Layl fî Baghdad (A Quiet Night in Baghdad) Maqâm Nahawand 8:43
5. Min Ashûr ilâ Ishbîliyâ (From Assyria to Seville) Maqâm 'Ajam 5:24
6. Salât Bâbiliyya (Babylonian Prayer) 5:50
7. Ughniya 'Irâqiyya (Iraqi Song) Maqâm Bastanikâr 7:48
8. Hiwâr bayn al-Mutanabbî was-Sayyâb (Dialogue Between Two Poets) Maqâm Nahawand 7:41
9. Al-'Amiriyya (The Shelter at al-'Amiriyya) Maqâm 'Ajam 15:17

Rahil al-Qamar/The Moon Fades
(Naseer Shamma)

A live recording made in Boston, USA, and featuring several tracks from Shamma's CD 'Le Luth de Bagdad/The Baghdad Lute'.

1. Rahil al-Qamar (The Moon Fades) 8:44
2. Qissa Hubb Sharqiyya (An Eastern Love Story) 7:32
3. Nasamat 'Adhba (Fresh Breezes) 7:40
4. Min Ashur ila Ishbiliyya (From Assyria to Seville) 4:42
5. Laly Baghdad (Baghdad Night) 8:40
6. Hubb al-'Asafir (The Love of Birds) 5:17
7. Hadatha fi al-'Amiriyya (It Happened at al-'Amiriyya) 15:17

Maqamat Ziryáb
(Pneuma PN 480)

Subtitled 'From the Euphrates to the Guadalquivir', this CD presents a selection of taqasim and compositions that Ziryáb brought from Baghdad to Córdoba over a thousand years ago. It also features Shamma's singing debut on the last track - a beautiful song with oud accompaniment.

1. Dau' ar-Ruh (Light of the Soul) Maqám Hiyáz 11:09
2. Hilal as-Sabá 8:04
3. Dance of the Horse Maqám Naháwand 13:26
4. Awshar Maqám Awshar 6:18
5. Discourse of the Soul Maqám Ajam 7:32
6. Maqam Rast 10:20
7. Zada al-Garam (Love Grew) Maqám Naháwand 7:28

Ahlam 'Atiqiyya/Ancient Dreams
(Hybrid Records)

Another excellent selection of Naseer Shamma's compositions for solo oud.

1. Halat Wajd (Meditation) 8:53
2. Layali al-Hulm (Dream Nights) 7:42
3. Ahlam 'Atiqiyya (Ancient Dreams) 6:33
4. Garcia Lorca 6:13
5. Ziyara Muqaddasa (Pilgrimage) 6:27
6. Al-Amira (The Princess) 4:40
7. Bayn an-Nakhil (Among the Palms) 6:15
8. Law Kan li Janah (If I Had Wings) 5:27
9. Sama'i Kurd 5:31

Hilal/Crescent Moon (with Oyoun)
(Pneuma PN 760)

In a departure from his usual solo oud releases, on this CD Shamma joins up with Oyoun, an eight-piece traditional Arab ensemble that includes qanun, nay, violin, cello, double bass and percussion. Oyoun was formed by Shamma in Cairo in 1999 as an expanded version of the traditional Arab takht ensemble.

1. Hali Bihi Yahlu (He Fills my Spirit to the Brim) 4:38
2. Bein Elnakhil (Amid the Palm Trees) 6:34
3. Halat Wayd (In a State of Passion) 7:49
4. Hilal al Saba 7:37
5. Zaman al-Nahawand (The Time of Nahawand) 8:05
6. Taalim Huriyya (The Precepts of the Houri) 5:58
7. Ishraq (Illumination) 6:41
8. Lil Ruh Hadith (The Discourse of the Soul) 4:42
9. Subhan el Dayem (He is the Eternal One) 6:18

Halat Wajd/Meditation
(Naseer Shamma)

A live recording of a concert at the American University in Cairo.

1. Zahrat al-Alam (Blossom of Pain) 10:09
2. Irtijal Rast (Rast Improvisation) 6:20
3. Turath Filistini (Palestinian Heritage) 4:23
4. Halat Wajd (Meditation) 7:12
5. Raqsat al-Fars (Persian Dance) 4:00
6. Hiwar ma'a al-Kibar (Dialogue with the Greats) 8:48
7. Ishraq (Illumination) 7:54

Ard as-Sawad/The Black Land
(Naseer Shamma)

Another fine selection of original compositions. The CD title refers to the name given to Iraq by the original Arab conquerors in reference to its fertility.

1. Ard as-Sawad (The Black Land) 13:59
2. Baghdad Kama Uhibbuha (Baghdad As I Love Her) 4:26
3. Ibrahim 6:32
4. Shari'a ar-Rashid (Rashid Street) 8:01
5. Bain ar-Rusafah wa al-Karkh (Between Rusafa and Karkh) 2:55
6. Salima Murad 8:20
7. Al-'Iraq 'ala Maqam Wahid (Iraq in a Single Maqam) 10:34

Viaje de las Almas/Travelling Souls
(Pneuma PN 1250)

A beautiful recording on which Naseer Shamma's oud combines with the sitar of Ashraf Sharif Khan and tabla of Shabbaz Hussain to produce a blend of Arab, Andalusian and Indian music.

1. Travelling Souls 14:54
2. Al-Andalus Opens Its Gates 6:33
3. The Path to Shaqlawa 8:21
4. My Grandfather's Wisdom 4:49
5. Nostalgia for Córdoba 13:50
6. Hammurabi 4:53
7. For Túnez 12:13


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